Review: Happy Valley (S2 E4/6), Tuesday 1st March, BBC1

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Programme Name: Happy Valley series 2 - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. 4) - Picture Shows: Catherine (SARAH LANCASHIRE) - (C) Red Productions - Photographer: Ben Blackall

(C) Red Productions – Photographer: Ben Blackall

So we’re over the hump and into the home straight with Happy Valley and there are three very definite story strands: the serial killer investigation; the murder of Vicky Fleming and John’s subsequent descent into madness; and Tommy Lee Royce’s revenge plan. It’s all bubbling up quite nicely, really.

We know that there’s no one quite like Catherine Cawood on television, and in the first scenes of this fourth episode she ably demonstrated why.

She got called out in the middle of the night to the house of a 19-year-old sex worker, who has been raped and threatened with a broken bottle, which matches the serial killer’s MO. Catherine goes into full comfort mode, lowering her voice to barely to a whisper so as not to frighten the survivor of this attack, and gently coaxed information about her attacker. It’s was skilled, unemotional police work, but with that special Catherine edge – she goes the extra mile for the people under her care, under her ward, because it’s the way she likes to retain control within the greater framework of her life. She likes to look after them because they are her people. They are nothing without her and she is nothing without them.

But her mood turned when she found out that the two (female) duty officers who initially dealt with the sex worker didn’t go the extra mile, and dismissed her as just another prozzie who they could do without helping properly. When Catherine got back to the station she absolutely, ferociously tore into them.

To be believable this change in moods can only be portrayed by a fine actress and, as this series has gone on and Catherine’s world continues to implode, Sarah Lancashire is really coming into her own. Like the first series, it’s a proper tour de force. And when she flips from mood to mood, you just can’t take your eyes off her.

But if Catherine is in control of her professional life, her home life was continuing to fall apart. It was Ryan’s birthday, and he was sent an anonymous birthday present (placed on the doorstep by creepy Frances). When it was revealed the Scalextric set was a present from his dad, naturally Ryan was touched and wanted to know more about him. And, naturally, Catherine flew into a shaking, fearful rage. There was something of Tommy Lee Royce inside her house, her sanctuary. There was an insidious worm inside her home life, starting to wreck the equilibrium she’d work so hard to establish since the death of her daughter.

Elsewhere, there were developments in the serial killer case. Sean was arrested – there was just too much evidence, provided by the attacked sex worker, not too – and then there was Neil, who revealed to Clare that he had also been blackmailed by Vicky Fleming. This incident had caused his mental breakdown, and his subsequent alcoholism. There was also Daryl, up on the farm. When Ann and Shafiq interviewed the shy, timid man (who we saw right at the start of the series let’s not forget) the camera lingered on his car for one split second longer. That moment – that spilt second – made me think that there’s more to Daryl than meets the eye. Just a hunch, but just the way that shot of his red car made me think it was a big, fat clue.

Elsewhere, John was hoping that Sean’s arrest might just get him off his hideous crime but Shackleton’s belief that the killer of Vicky Fleming wasn’t the same person as the one killing sex workers was making him feel queasy.

Another good episode, once again showcasing Sally Wainwright’s effortless transition from harrowing to folksy and funny. With only two episodes the pieces are being moved into place, final showdowns are looming on the horizon and suspects are beginning to emerge.

Paul Hirons
@Son_Of_Ray

For all our Happy Valley news and reviews, go here

3 thoughts on “Review: Happy Valley (S2 E4/6), Tuesday 1st March, BBC1

  1. What an excellent review. I was struck by this,
    “To be believable this change in moods can only be portrayed by a fine actress and, as this series has gone on and Catherine’s world continues to implode, Sarah Lancashire is really coming into her own. Like the first series, it’s a proper tour de force. And when she flips from mood to mood, you just can’t take your eyes off her.”
    Sarah Lancashire continues to be a brilliant light in this series. I don’t know which is more impressive – her sadness or her anger, her strength or her weakness. She’s astonishing!

    Like

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